joanna weiss

‘The Jeffersons’ showed Americans how to speak frankly about race

In honor of Sherman Hemsley, the gifted comic actor who died last week, I watched “The Jeffersons” for the first time since I was a kid. While I remembered the “Movin’ on Up” theme song word for word, I had forgotten many details of the show itself: George Jefferson’s roll-shake walk; his raunchy overtures to his wife, Louise; the way the show bravely talked about race.

Consider an episode that first aired in 1980 but flashed back to 1968, when George was applying for a minority loan to start his dry-cleaning business — on the same day Martin Luther King was killed. A white loan officer came to the Jeffersons’ Harlem apartment. As the man’s prejudice became apparent, George responded with a mix of righteous anger and sarcastic sitcom banter.

Your comment is subject to the rules of our Posting Policy

This comment may appear on your public profile. Public Profile FAQ

We hope you've enjoyed your free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com